Thursday, February 07, 2002

N.Ky. PAC has a plan

GOP targets funds, activists

By Patrick Crowley
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        A group of young Republicans has formed what is Northern Kentucky's first party based political action committee.

        Organizers say the goal in establishing The Commonwealth Political Action Committee is not just raising money to hand out to candidates, the traditional role of PACs.

        The PAC will also be used to attract young professionals to Republican Party activism and acquaint statewide GOP candidates with Northern Kentucky, said Trey Grayson, a member of the Kenton County Republican Executive Committee and the PAC's chairman.

        “This is not just about making contributions to campaigns, though our target is to give contributions of up to $250 to local, county and statewide candidates,” said Mr. Grayson, a Park Hills lawyer.

        “It's about attracting young professionals into the party and getting them active with the party, and about showing off Northern Kentucky to young Republican candidates running statewide or in other places around the state,” he said.

        Mr. Grayson and others in the PAC recently invited Scott Crosby, a Republican running for mayor of Lexington, to meet local Republicans and community leaders and take a tour of Northern Kentucky.

        “Doing things like that will help us give Northern Kentucky a better connection to the rest of the state,” Mr. Grayson said.

        Since the PAC will operate and make contributions only in the state, it does not have to register with the Federal Election Commission. It has registered with the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance, a requirement for Kentucky-based PACs.

        Other Republicans involved in forming and overseeing the PAC are Marc Wilson, Steve Smith and John Nalbandian of Boone County and Dave Hatter of Kenton County, a Fort Wright city councilman.

        The PAC was formed in December and has raised about $3,000, most of it coming from events featuring appearances by well-known Kentucky Republicans.

        So far, two local events have been held. Guest speakers were Kentucky Supreme Court Chief Justice Joseph Lambert, a potential Republican candidate for governor in 2003, and Kentucky GOP Chairwoman Ellen Williams.

        Tickets for the events were $20. “We didn't want to charge too much because our goal right now is to attract people, not just raising money,” Mr. Grayson said.

        A third event is set for Feb. 26 at 7 a.m. at Commonwealth Hilton in Florence, featuring Ashland chief executive Paul Chellgren. All registered Republicans are invited to attend. Tickets are $20 and are available from the PAC's leaders.

        Nathan Smith, chairman of the Kenton County Democratic Party, questioned whether the Republicans need a PAC when the local county parties raise and contribute money to GOP candidates.

        “The Democrats have a united front, and we'll have one for the November election,” Mr. Smith said. “We don't need something like a PAC because our party isn't splintered.”

        Mr. Grayson disputed the notion that the PAC is an attempt to break away from the GOP's county parties.

        “This is not a mutiny. We are not rebels,” he said. “Most of us involved are on the (Republican) executive committees in our counties. We're just creating a niche and giving people who are like-minded on issues (a chance) to contribute to and become a part of a local PAC.”


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